Gun buybacks could become regular events in N.J.

 (Mel Evans/AP Photo, file)

(Mel Evans/AP Photo, file)

Gun-buyback programs in New Jersey could become a requirement.

The programs work, but there aren’t enough of them, said Assemblyman John McKeon. So he has sponsored a bill that would require the state attorney general to have at least nine of them every year.

“Law enforcement can get busy with other responsibilities, and this puts this on their plate and doesn’t make it a choice or an option,” said McKeon, D-Essex. “To make it part of our regular routine as we move through the years proportionately will bring the percentage of guns to people down, and that will have an effect and save lives.”

A gun buyback program in Trenton last year netted more than 2,500 weapons. A shoulder-held rocket launcher, submachine guns and a 12-gauge shotgun with a “street sweeper” cartridge capable of holding 12 rounds were among the arms turned in over two days.Thousands of guns have been turned in cities, including Camden, throughout the state in similar programs. Those who turn in the weapons receive cash, gift cards or other incentives.

The state’s criminal forfeiture fund could be used to finance the buybacks, he said.

“We don’t do enough of them,” McKeon said. “You know it’s rare that we can take a look at something that has a proven track record and say, hey, that works. So if we can do two, why not do nine?”

There’s been opposition to many of the gun control bills that have been proposed in the legislature. But McKeon said the buyback program does not infringe on anyone’s Second Amendment rights, and he’s hopeful of getting bipartisan support for the legislation.

The bill also would encourage businesses to enter into partnerships with the government to find creative ways of getting guns off the streets, McKeon said.

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